SOMETIMES I’m really not convinced about the value of trying to lead a healthy life.knee brace

There I was, cruising along as a good time Charlie, eating, drinking and making merry, when for some inexplicable reason I decided I should prepare myself for a healthier old age.

I joined a gym, gave up wine and chocolate and started downing fish oil, krill, glucosamine and every other vitamin vaguely recommended.

I lost weight, felt good about myself – and ended up in so much pain I could barely walk.

It was the knees, you see.

I thought I was doing myself a favour pounding the treadmill during the week and making a point of sauntering around town exploring every weekend.

I felt healthy. My mind certainly felt the better for it, invigorated with the world at my feet again.

After a couple of months, the creaks began to set in. Perhaps the old joints just weren’t used to being exercised.

It seemed so unjust. After all those years living with the motto “here for a good time, not for a long time” and “I’m into self-indulgence not self-denial” I was  hurting from doing the right thing.

The GP sent me off for MRI scans and an orthopaedic referral. A few x-rays, specialist appointments, physiotherapist visits and more than $1000 later I had the verdict.

Arthritis had eaten away at my right knee and all that exercise wasn’t doing it a scrap of good.Vietnam 051

Too old to save it – “it can’t be stopped or reversed but it can be managed” – and too young for a knee replacement (replacements only last a decade so it has to be bad if you’re under 60) I was given a prescription for a hefty anti-inflammatory.

It worked. The pain stopped and I could get about without looking like I needed a walking frame but the prospect of  swallowing heavy duty prescription drugs for the rest of my life was less than exciting.

When I asked the doc about the side-effects, I was told there was a risk it would eat out my stomach lining and that I would know there was a problem if there was blood in the toilet.

Great. A very attractive proposition.

I went off the pills, started wearing a knee brace and gave up the gym.

All the advice about building up quad muscles to take pressure off the knee had taken me nowhere.

And I gave up heels and invested in sensible shoes.

I also bought a set of walking poles so that long walks were still possible. They take pressure off the knee and put it on the arms and work well if you want to look like a serious Swiss hiker, minus Goretex boots.

So, now I’m right back where I started. No knee pain, no exercise and bring on the wine.